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Abortion now a constitutional right in France

8 March 2024
Abortion france my body my choice protest

In a historic yet divisive move, France has become the first nation globally to formally incorporate abortion rights into its constitution.

This decision, following a parliamentary vote of 780-72, has sparked a mix of celebration and concern.

The constitutional amendment, solidifying women's unequivocal freedom to choose abortion, marks a significant shift in French law, evolving from its legalisation in 1975.

Despite legal support and public approval for such a change, the amendment has ignited a wave of criticism from pro-life advocates and religious groups, notably the Vatican.

"There can be no 'right' to take a human life," it says, echoing concerns already raised by French Catholic bishops.

It appealed to "all governments and all religious traditions to do their best so that, in this phase of history, the protection of life becomes an absolute priority".

This contentious alteration of the nation’s foundational principles has been described by President Emmanuel Macron as "French pride" that sends a “universal message”.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal addressed parliament ahead of the vote, “we’re sending a message to all women: your body belongs to you and no one can decide for you.”

Critics argue the amendment was unnecessary, accusing Macron of leveraging it for political gain, amidst allegations of pandering to leftist supporters.

The amendment was prompted by the United States' rollback of abortion rights by the Surpreme Court in 2022 allowing for individual states to now ban the procedure once again.

The French government's action, therefore, stands as a preemptive measure to protect these rights from potential future challenges.

Amidst the political and ethical debates, the lighting of the Eiffel Tower with the message "My Body My Choice" symbolised a moment of triumph for many people.

However, this celebration is juxtaposed with the deep sadness voiced by those who view the amendment as a moral and ethical setback.

Meanwhile, in the UK parliament, MPs are set to debate two abortion amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill: one which would decrease the abortion limit from the current 24 weeks to 22 weeks, and another which would decriminalise abortion altogether.

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In any pregnancy, both the woman and preborn baby have inherent value and dignity, by virtue of being made in the image of God. CARE is passionately pro-woman and pro-life.

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